Tuesday, June 22, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Dalit families employ RTI Act, get their land


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Dalit families employ RTI Act, get their land

M. Dinesh Varma


They plan to raise bank loans to build their own homes and start agriculture


CHENNAI: Landless Dalit families in a Kancheepuram village have used
the Right to Information (RTI) Act to prompt the district
administration to hand over land that was originally allotted to them
several years ago, thanks to the initiative of a grassroots NGO.

The 106 Dalit families in Alisoor village had been allotted 100 sq m
by the Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Housing and Development Board in 1998.
The local district administration had even issued the original patta
document with the individual plot numbers. However, the allotment
remained on paper and the villagers never got the land though they
approached the local administration several times.

The families were residing in hutments on poramboke land, when in
2008, Kancheepuram-based NGO Hand in Hand started working in the
village by forming self-help groups and began development projects.

A Citizen Centre Enterprise was established as an IT empowerment
initiative that helped villagers enrol for computer courses, register
for voting, apply for ration cards, pensions or prepare petitions, a
spokesman for the NGO said.

A Good Governance Rights Protection Committee (GGRPC) was then set up
to train villagers in citizen rights and duties. "With the help of
this committee, the villagers learnt to use the RTI Act to unearth
information on the allotment details of the land," the spokesman said.

Armed with the RTI information, villagers prepared an application with
the signatures of all the beneficiaries along with the land patta
copies to be forwarded to the local administration with a copy sent to
the District Collector.

Positive response

To the delight of the villagers, the application evoked a response
from the administration. District Collector Santhosh K. Misra
undertook a visit to the village.

He personally supervised the handing over of land to the beneficiary
families. The villagers plan to raise bank loans to build their own
homes and start agriculture.


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